Christian victims of domestic violence face the same hurdles to leaving an abusive relationship as do other victims, but they also have religious or biblical concerns, which make it difficult even getting to the stage of admitting abuse is happening without fearing ‘eternal condemnation’. We may also ask ourselves whether our experience within the relationship is what God intended for us.
One of the main dilemmas facing the victim of abuse and the Church leaders and/or members when dealing with the perpetrator of Domestic Violence, is the question of Forgiveness. Should we forgive the abuser unconditionally? How do we tell if repentance has taken place? Should the acts be forgiven and forgotten? For the victim, is it her/his duty to forgive each incident, act as though nothing had happened and continue to put herself/himself at risk from the abuser? Do we need to be forgiven ourselves and is that forgiveness available to us?
Many victims of abuse turn to their church leader for advice on how to deal with the abuse, whether it is acceptable in the sight of the Lord to leave the abuser, is divorce an option which is acceptable to the Lord, can the Church help to stop the abuse, hold the abuser accountable, help to protect the victim and children? How should clergy respond? Spiritual abuse found within the context of domestic violence stems directly from misunderstanding and false premises.